safari 4.jpg

Today Apple kind of took everyone by surprise when they released a big milestone for the Safari browser. The new Safari 4 Beta from Apple borrows some ideas from their competition, and they spiced it up a bit with some fancy graphics. This is most notably seen in the “Top Sites” screen as seen in the image above. It’s a combination of Opera’s Speed Dial and Google Chrome’s most frequently visited pages. Then they added a little glamor to really make it pop.

The Windows version also received a major visual overhaul so that it actually fits in well with the operating system, and for the most part feels a lot like Google Chrome. Especially since the tabs are located along the top on the titlebar… again, like Chrome.

When it comes down to speed Apple has actually managed to squeeze out a bit more. I ran the Mac version of the browser on the SunSpider test against Firefox 3.1 Beta 2 (also Mac), and Safari 4 Beta squeaked out on top. It took Firefox 3.1 a total of 1409.6ms to run all the tests, and Safari 4 was 1276.8ms (lower number is better). It’s not much of a difference, but Firefox 3.1 beat out Safari 3 proving that Apple didn’t focus solely on appearance this time around.

Aside from that here are some of the features Apple pointed out for Safari 4:

  • Top Sites – See your favorite websites at a glance.
  • Cover Flow – Flip through your site history or bookmarks like you flip through albums in iTunes
  • Full History Search – Easily retrieve sites you’ve seen before.
  • Tabs on Top – Manage your tabs elegantly and open a wide window for exploring the web.
  • Nitro Engine – Surf the web with the world’s fastest browser.
  • Windows Native Look and Feel – Vista and XP users will feel right at home.
  • Developer Tools – Access the best suite of development tools ever included in a browser.

I’m diggin’ Safari 4 on my Mac, and despite being a rather dedicated Firefox user I plan on giving Safari a fair shot. I think Google might be able to grab an edge on Safari once they add support for extensions, but until then I think Windows users will, at the very least, be giving the browser a shot.

So what do you think? The number of web browsers and what they’re capable of doing is getting pretty amazing when you think about where this market was just a few years ago. I can’t wait to see what comes next, and what company it will come from.

Haven’t read enough? Here are some more articles worth checking out regarding this release:

Get Safari 4 Beta for Windows or Mac